Pursue Lifelong Learning in Independent Living

Science continues to confirm the fact that physical and intellectual exercise are both necessary to pursue good physical and mental health. In fact, the old adage, “use it or lose it,” holds quite a bit of truth in this regard. Perhaps understanding this reality is never more important than during retirement when kicking back and relaxing after years of working hard. The good news is that physical and intellectual exercise can be enjoyable. In fact, finding the right activities can make us forget we are exercising at all!

Here are five ways to pursue lifelong learning in independent living.

1. Find topics or subjects you want to learn

Have you ever thought about learning another language? Have you ever considered picking up a musical instrument or learning to cook new and exciting foods? It’s never too late to try something new. In fact, now is the best timeto explore a new hobby!

The right active-lifestyle retirement community will offer social and educational programs that span a variety of interests and opportunities so you can engage your mind and body in a healthy way. If you try something new and decide you don’t enjoy it, you can move on to something else! The best part of retirement is that you have the time to learn and explore whatever your heart desires.

2. Make new friends

The older we get, the more we understand that our friends don’t need to be carbon copies of us. In fact, we can benefit from getting to know people who have lived very different lifestyles than our own.

One of the best places to meet and make new, great friends is at a retirement community. With restaurant-style dining, a fully-packed entertainment calendar, and a public game room, the possibilities are endless!

Don’t hesitate to strike up conversations that lead to long-lasting friendships. The ideal independent living community will offer and encourage opportunities to strengthen your existing social connections and develop new ones to help you stay happy and healthy. Building interpersonal relationships can be a unique and enjoyable version of lifelong learning.

3. Pursue purpose and meaning

Now that you are retired, you finally have the time to invest in areas that matter to you. Is there something you have always wanted to do in order to invest in or give back to your community? Have you ever considered writing or teaching? Now is the time to take that next step. Not only will you benefit the people around you, but you will benefit your own health with a creative form of lifelong learning.

Many retirement communities encourage faith-based involvement, volunteerism and service opportunities that allow you to fill your life with purpose. Now more than ever, retirement is the right time to find a place a worship or an area of service where you can give back and find camaraderie in community.

4. Take advantage of community amenities

It’s no secret that physical activity and good nutrition enable us to stay strong and flexible, while limiting illness and disability. So, what unique amenities or services does your independent living community have that you can explore? Does your community offer fitness and wellness programs? What about exercise classes? Do you have access to an art studio or a billiards room? Take advantage of these or other opportunities and discover lifelong learning in a fun and social environment.

5. Engage in member programs

Independent living communities offer programs to encourage the pursuit of lifelong learning, but even if they don’t, you can find ways to enroll or engage in member programs. Look for educational opportunities, either in your community or at a local college or university, where you can pursue a subject you are curious about., Enjoy art and music whenever and wherever you can. Go on adventures and take local trips to interesting areas and events. Try new food. Visit new places. If someone invites you on an excursion, agree to go!

Bottom line: you’ll never regret challenging yourself and trying new things. You may not love everything you try, but you’ll love the fact that you tried, and you’ll have a lifetime of good memories to show for it!

Here at Verena at the Glen, we believe in the pursuit of lifelong learning in independent living. In fact, we have no shortage of activities, programs and ways to connect with others. We believe so strongly in pursuing lifelong learning that we’ve included it in our wellness philosophy, which guides the choices we’ve made while building a community we can be proud of from the ground up.

We are a sophisticated, active-lifestyle retirement community in Glen Allen, surrounded by breathtaking Virginia landscape, and a short drive from Richmond. Our first-class amenities and upscale senior apartments ensure you’ll feel right at home. We would love to show you around and introduce you to the place we are lucky to call home. Contact us to schedule a tour.

10 Heart-Healthy Foods and Where to Find Them in Williamsburg

Did you know that your heart will beat about 2.5 billion times over the course of your lifetime? With every beat, your heart works hard to send millions of gallons of blood — along with critical oxygen, hormones and fuel — throughout your body.

It’s truly amazing that our hearts function so well and for so many decades, especially given the prevalence of unhealthy diets, smoking, lack of exercise and other detrimental lifestyle factors. Those negative habits can lead to the formation of plaques — known as atherosclerosis — in the arteries, which eventually can cause strokes and heart attacks.

Although heart disease remains the top killer of Americans, it is not an inevitable part of aging. Fortunately, you can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease by eating a heart-healthy diet. Thankfully, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to eat well in the Williamsburg area.

To guide you toward eating to help protect your heart, we’ve put together this list of 10 heart-healthy foods and where you can find them in Williamsburg. Whether you live here or you plan to visit, you’ll enjoy stopping by these local hot spots and sampling their healthy fare.


Salmon and other types of fatty fish are among the healthiest foods you can eat, especially when it comes to your heart. With high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and similar fish may lower the chances of developing atherosclerosis or a heart arrhythmia. American Heart Association guidelines suggest eating fish twice a week, with a preference for fatty fish.

Around Williamsburg, you can find plenty of places to buy healthy fish like salmon, either deliciously cooked for you or ready for you to take home and prepare at your convenience. Consider stopping by Christiana Campbell’s Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg for grilled salmon, or pick up some fresh, seasonal seafood to take home from Yorktown Market Days on the River. The event, just a short drive from Williamsburg, features local farmers and artisans offering regionally grown, fresh seafood, produce and more.


More than three weekly servings of delicious berries, including strawberries, blueberries and others, may lower the risk of heart attacks by nearly a third, research has found. Researchers attribute the benefits to a type of flavonoids known as anthocyanins, which may dilate the blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

Among Williamsburg’s many farmers markets and natural foods stores, you’ll find fresh, locally produced berries and berry products through Agriberry Farm. The farm offers jams, applesauce and fresh berries on a seasonal basis through the Williamsburg Farmers Market. Barry’s Berries and Jan’s Jams is another vendor offering fresh, hand-picked berries at the Williamsburg Farmers Market.

Dark Chocolate

It may seem utterly sinful, but chocolate — particularly the dark varieties — also contains heart health-boosting flavonoids. Medical experts believe that the antioxidant power of chocolate and other flavonoid-rich foods may have positive effects on your cardiovascular system, including improving clotting ability of blood platelets, improving blood flow to your heart and brain, and reducing your blood pressure.

You’ll find a variety of chocolate treats at Chocolate Cravings, which offers its wares at the Williamsburg Farmers Market. Among the many sweet offerings, focus on dark chocolate selections like dark berry chocolate bark for the highest level of flavonoids.


Tomatoes are rich in a number of heart-healthy substances, including beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamins A and C, and lycopene, which gives these fruits their deep red color. Lycopene, specifically, may offer significant heart health benefits, research has found.

Among other benefits, tomatoes have been shown to lower markers of inflammation associated with cardiovascular events like atrial fibrillation, strokes and heart attacks. Reduction of inflammation markers appears especially pronounced for overweight individuals. Tomatoes also may help lower blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension and hypertension, and they may help lower the risk of stroke and improve survival rates following heart failure.

You’ll find delicious, farm-fresh tomatoes and tomato products at the Williamsburg Farmers Market and a variety of other farmers markets throughout the Williamsburg area.

Red Wine

Modest amounts of red wine and other types of alcohol are believed to lower the risk of heart disease — although more than a drink or two on a daily basis may increase the risk. If you’re not already a drinker, doctors don’t recommend that you start. Instead doctors recommend that you get heart health-boosting resveratrol from other sources, like grapes and peanut butter.

If you do enjoy a glass of wine a few times a week, though, you’ll find a wide variety of local vintages in Williamsburg and the surrounding areas. Grayhaven Winery, linked to one of Virginia’s oldest independent commercial vineyards, offers hand-made wines from French hybrid and vinifera grapes. You can find Grayhaven Winery’s offerings at the Williamsburg Farmers Market.

Hampton Roads Winery, which also offers its wares through the Williamsburg Farmers Market, is located at White Oak Farm, home of the “World’s Tallest Goat Tower.”

Walnuts, Almonds and Other Nuts

As part of a healthy diet, nuts may offer significant heart health benefits, medical authorities say. A variety of nutrients, along with unsaturated fatty acids, make nuts a healthy snack that also keeps well and travels easily. Nuts are high in calories and fat, so go easy on the amounts you consume; a handful a day is plenty, experts say.

Evidence is inconclusive on how much nuts may benefit your heart health, but eating them is typically fine for most people unless you have an allergy. Research has found that modest servings of nuts may help lower your LDL — or “bad” — cholesterol, which contributes to the plaques that accumulate on blood vessels. Nuts also may help reduce inflammation that may contribute to heart disease.

You’ll find a variety of nuts available at our seasonal farmers markets in the Williamsburg area and year-round at the many natural food stores.


Recent research has found that eggs may reduce your risk of heart disease. One recent study had participants eating either two or 12 eggs per week; after six months, neither group experienced significant changes in their risk factors for heart disease.

In another study, researchers tracked healthy individuals over nine years, finding that those who ate eggs on a regular basis had a reduced risk of dying from a stroke or heart disease compared to subjects who avoided eggs.

In the Williamsburg area, you can buy fresh eggs from a number of local farms, along with farmers markets and natural foods stores.

Citrus Fruits

Oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits offer a variety of health benefits, and they can help boost your heart health. As with a range of other produce, the flavonoids in citrus may provide the biggest advantages, in this case reducing triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol. In addition, the vitamin C in citrus may help lower the risk of heart disease.

Note that if you take statin medications to lower cholesterol, you should check with your doctor before consuming grapefruit, which may interfere with the efficacy of the drugs.

Find citrus fruits at farmers markets and natural food stores throughout the Williamsburg area.

Green Tea

A recent study found that a molecule in green tea may help protect you against atherosclerosis, a frequent cause of strokes and heart attacks. The research looked at whether a specific chemical in white, green and black teas — but most prevalent in green tea — could help fight atherosclerosis by breaking down a substance that enlarges plaques and restricts blood flow. Indeed, researchers found that the unique combination of molecules in green tea converts the plaque-building substance into smaller, less flow-restrictive molecules.

In the Hampton Roads area, which includes Williamsburg, you can enjoy a cup of tea in a variety of venues, including Aromas World, which offers selections of green, black, white, herbal and other teas.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Few foods are as good for your overall health — and the health of your heart — as leafy green vegetables. From cabbage to broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach and kale, these nutritional powerhouses are filled with substances that provide advantages for your heart and circulatory system. Rich in vitamins C, A and K, along with fiber, leafy green vegetables can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, experts say.

Across Williamsburg, you’ll find these healthy vegetables in a variety of venues, including the seasonal Christopher Newport University Farmers Market and Coleman Nursery & Farmers Market. Throughout the year, you can buy leafy greens and other fresh produce at natural foods stores and groceries around the Hampton Roads region.

Inspired Living in an Ideal Location

Experience beautiful architecture, a variety of services and amenities, and elegant apartment living — all in a convenient location with easy access to Williamsburg and the surrounding areas. To learn more and to schedule a visit to our active-lifestyle community, Verena at the Reserve, please contact us.